The comments section of The Battalion came alive after students began sharing the leading article in the student newspaper. The article in question, “First Openly Female Student in the Corps,” garnered much debate among students online where the article was shared. Some students recognized this landmark achievement for what it is, while other students protested the rhetoric in the article.
While women have been allowed membership in the Corps of Cadets since 1974, Kimberly Washington is the first openly female cadet in the Corps. Historically, women have had to act like men to keep the possibility of a leadership role open for their junior and senior years. Others’ decision on behalf of Washington highlights a shift in the culture of the Corps of Cadets and the university as a whole.
The reporter’s decision to highlight Washington by an unchangeable part of who she is allows others to decide her merit without looking at any indicators of her behavior or performance. “Ever since people decided to focus on my identity, they haven’t gotten to know me for who I am,” said Washington. “With everyone’s opinion of me being based off my gender, it’s almost as if I could just put a link to the article on my resume instead of my numerous qualifications.”
Across the Quad, cadets were outspoken about their own personal opinions on the matter and felt entitled to share their take on the issue. “We could have judged her qualifications and her character to determine what kind of cadet she is,” said Jimmy Young, a junior mechanical engineering major. “That just wouldn’t have the same effect as judging her from the assumptions I hold based off of her gender identity. Why would you talk about who someone is, when it is much easier to portray them as whatever protected classes they fall under?”
Rather than being awestruck about the matter, other students were confused about the ordeal. “I know Kimberly and she is a wonderful person; she is so passionate about service and spends her time volunteering at the Boys and Girls club in Bryan,” said Jessica French, a classmate of Washington’s. “Why isn’t the headline ‘Normal Cadet Does Something Abnormal with Her Spare Time’? I am positive that Kimberly would rather have people know her for the actions that define who she is.”
The Battalion saw a massive increase in clicks on their Facebook page due to the headline, and students enjoyed being allowed the convenience to determine the qualifications of a person based on an unchangeable part of them rather than on the quality of their character.
In the end, some students argued that without focusing on her identity, an important achievement in our school’s history would have gone unnoticed. Others feel that her achievements would have been loud enough on their own.
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